Romans Bible Study #34
The Light in the Darkness
4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
5 For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness. 6 But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: “DO NOT SAY IN YOUR HEART, ‘WHO WILL ASCEND INTO HEAVEN?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), 7 or ‘WHO WILL DESCEND INTO THE ABYSS?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” 8 But what does it say? “THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, [g]resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13 for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”
14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him (Q)whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!”
16 However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, “LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
18 But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have;
“THEIR VOICE HAS GONE OUT INTO ALL THE EARTH,
AND THEIR WORDS TO THE ENDS OF THE WORLD.”
19 But I say, surely Israel did not know, did they? First Moses says,
“I WILL MAKE YOU JEALOUS BY THAT WHICH IS NOT A NATION,
BY A NATION WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING WILL I ANGER YOU.”
20 And Isaiah is very bold and says,
“I WAS FOUND BY THOSE WHO DID NOT SEEK ME,
I BECAME MANIFEST TO THOSE WHO DID NOT ASK FOR ME.”
21 But as for Israel He says, “ALL THE DAY LONG I HAVE STRETCHED OUT MY HANDS TO A DISOBEDIENT AND OBSTINATE PEOPLE.” NASB
4-10The earlier revelation was intended simply to get us ready for the Messiah, who then puts everything right for those who trust him to do it. Moses wrote that anyone who insists on using the law code to live right before God soon discovers it's not so easy—every detail of life regulated by fine print! But trusting God to shape the right living in us is a different story— no precarious climb up to heaven to recruit the Messiah, no dangerous descent into hell to rescue the Messiah. So what exactly was Moses saying?
The word that saves is right here,
as near as the tongue in your mouth,
as close as the heart in your chest.
It's the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—"Jesus is my Master"—embracing, body and soul, God's work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That's it. You're not "doing" anything; you're simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That's salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: "God has set everything right between him and me!"
11-13Scripture reassures us, "No one who trusts God like this—heart and soul—will ever regret it." It's exactly the same no matter what a person's religious background may be: the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help. "Everyone who calls, 'Help, God!' gets help."
14-17But how can people call for help if they don't know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven't heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it? That's why Scripture exclaims,
A sight to take your breath away!
Grand processions of people
telling all the good things of God!
But not everybody is ready for this, ready to see and hear and act. Isaiah asked what we all ask at one time or another: "Does anyone care, God? Is anyone listening and believing a word of it?" The point is: Before you trust, you have to listen. But unless Christ's Word is preached, there's nothing to listen to.
18-21But haven't there been plenty of opportunities for Israel to listen and understand what's going on? Plenty, I'd say.
Preachers' voices have gone 'round the world,
Their message to earth's seven seas.
So the big question is, Why didn't Israel understand that she had no corner on this message? Moses had it right when he predicted,
When you see God reach out to those
you consider your inferiors—outsiders!—
you'll become insanely jealous.
When you see God reach out to people
you think are religiously stupid,
you'll throw temper tantrums.
Isaiah dared to speak out these words of God:
People found and welcomed me
who never so much as looked for me.
And I found and welcomed people
who had never even asked about me.
Then he capped it with a damning indictment:
Day after day after day,
I beckoned Israel with open arms,
And got nothing for my trouble
but cold shoulders and icy stares. The Message
“ Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.” Patrick of Ireland
This is what it means to be the end of the law, the inferior thing that could only hope to change external behavior and could not even do that consistently is replaced by the very life of Jesus flowing through us.
The law brings death because one failure is a failure of all. “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” James 2:10
Verses 6,7 Moses in Deuteronomy is speaking of the law, but Paul uses the verses to speak of Christ. The right answer, just like in Sunday school is Jesus.
Verses 8 The solution is a special kind of word. A word of faith. A word that connects us to the finished work of Jesus. A word that denies any power or ability that we have. A miracle word.
Verse 9 Jesus is the most attacked name there is. And His resurrection from the dead is one of the most attacked doctrines. Questioning God’s ultimate power over death is like saying He is not who He says He is, and so affirming that power is a way to express, He alone is God.
Verse 10 This verse “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.” James 2:19 speaks of a belief that is not united with saving faith. The fact that “every knee will bow,” says that truth is truth and one day all will acknowledge it. God’s calling and election of us gives us a much higher privilege, to believe, confess, and live for Him now.
Verse 11 This is a slice of Isaiah 28:16 “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed.” Amazing Grace has revealed to our hearts the “precious cornerstone.” This lesson is more and more a call to be truly, deeply, grateful, for all that we have been given.
Verse 12,13 Belief has no specific ethnic requirement. It is a free gift, and has only a “whoever” attached to it.
Verse 14,15 Starting from the end of the matter, Paul works his way back to the foundation of this process. One who is sent, preaches the news, resulting in hearing, and being called into the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ!! I have heard whole sermons on the word “sent.” It is a precious thing to be sent by God, it speaks of having His delegated power, authority and anointing. Preaching from such a one, results in many hearing the “word of Christ,” which is the call of God to their soul.
Verse 16 Isaiah was told and Paul and every preacher has experienced, not all have ears to hear and eyes to see the truth. The vocation, the calling, is to proclaim, the harvest is not your responsibility.
Verse 17 The root of faith is uncovered. At some point the blessed, called, person has been a hearer of the word of Christ. The anointed word, that has within it, the Life of the Son of God. That kind of word is a costly word, both to the proclaimer and the hearer.
Verse 18 The voice is the voice of creation and what is usually spoken of as “general revelation” that revelation that everyone gets. It is enough to make one accountable.
Verse 19 This verse seems to be a transition to me, we are now setting a course to glance into the mystery of God’s wisdom in all of history. The law and the chosen nation fail, this failure leads to the revealing of the path of faith to a people formerly ‘outside’ of God’s covenants and promises. But the purpose of the outsiders getting this gift is to make the insiders jealous and angry to the point of winning them back to their original purpose. God’s promises come to fruition NO MATTER WHAT!
Verse 20,21 lots of comments on these verses below, I was very encouraged to see that two sources that I trust, John Piper and Charles Spurgeon agreed on the issue of the sovereignty of God being truth, side-by-side and not in any way contradicting, the truth that men are given a choice, and encouraged to choose Christ. Philosophy might say that is impossible but when scripture reveals two truths it is better to just “bow” and believe both truths.
The reason it is not submission to God’s righteousness when we seek justification by trying to obey God, even with God’s help, is that it dishonors "Christ as our righteousness." It says to God, "My humble, Spirit-empowered behavior will be the ground of my righteous standing before you," while God is all the while saying,
"No it won’t. I have assigned that glorious role to the righteousness of my Son, Jesus Christ. When I accept you and vindicate you and declare you righteous in my sight, I will accept you and vindicate you and declare you righteous in my sight because on the ground of his righteousness alone. Perfect divine righteousness, performed by my Son, is the only righteousness that will justify in my court. You shall obey me through faith! But all your imperfect obedience will be the fruit of your justification, not the root. My Son alone will have that honor.
The submission to God’s righteousness that God requires of us is not simply that we submit to Christ’s enabling power as the key to our sanctification, but that first we submit to Christ’s perfection and pardon as the key to our justification. And if we try to merge them, we will cut Christ’s honor in half.”
verse 11-13 The ‘whoever’ and the ‘no distinction’ is unbelievably good news to the gentiles.
The amazingness of the gentiles coming into the kingdom from Acts 13:48
“When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.”
Paul’s Gospel had to be preached from OT texts, there was no NT at the time, so he labors to show that what he is preaching is not new, but is a New Revealing of the old.
Verse 9 “Jesus”, Verse 13 the “Name of the Lord”. = Jehovah
Quoting Joel 2:32 Paul does some amazing things by the Spirit of God. verse 13 he is quoting a text regarding Jehovah and substituting Jesus. This is in fact a good place to take the cults who teach that Jesus is not God and did not claim to be God. Paul here is saying, “See here where it says Jehovah in the Joel, you can put Jesus right in there.”
A. Believe in the Lord and you will not be disappointed (ashamed). v. 11
Paul repeats the promise of Isa. 28:16 with a new emphasis: “ whoever”. 9:33b
emphasize the “whoever” of the call
Verse 20,21 God saves His people using a process.
1. Paul has already shown how people are saved, from the Divine perspective.
a. God saves people by His sovereign grace. 9:15-16,18
b. The golden chain: foreknown, predestined, called, justified, glorified. 8:29-30
2. Now Paul shows how people are saved from the human perspective.
a. God accomplishes his saving purpose through us. Acts 13:48 18:9-10
b. Paul sets forth the chain of events in salvation, from the human side. 10:13-15
(Kings from man’s perspective Chronicles from God’s perspective)
The preacher must be sent. v. 15a 1:1,5 Gal. 1:15-16 2:2 Acts 26:17 Eph. 4:11f
1. Beware of preachers who are not sent by God. Jer. 14:14 23:21 27:15 I Co. 3:11
II Co. 3:1 11:13-15 Mt. 7:22-23
2. How can you tell that a person is sent by God? John 20:21 II Co. 5:20 I Co. 3:11
3. God sends forth preachers, including missionaries, by means of the church.
Acts 13:1f 14:26-28 II Ti.2:4 I Ti.3:15 Mt. 16:18
God’s acceptance of the Gentiles is meant to provoke the Jews to jealousy, leading
to their salvation. v. 19 11:11,14
Divine election and the free offer of the gospel are again taught side by side. v. 21
1. God gives an universal invitation, but only those whom He has chosen come.
Mt. 11:25-27 22:14
2. God sovereignly reveals Himself to those who were spiritually dead. v. 20 9:30
I Ti. 1:13 John 6:44,37
3. God hardens and cuts off the Jews. John 12:37f Isa. 53:1 Mark 4:12
4. God repeatedly and graciously stretches out His hands to disobedient obstinate
people. Mt. 11:28 23:37 Lu. 14:21-24 13:6-9 Acts 7:51-53 Jer. 7:13 Isa. 5:3 1:18f
5. Israel is fully responsible for her stubborn unbelief. John 5:40 Heb. 3:15
“verse 20 Sovereign grace predestines. verse 21 Man is responsible. Both are true.They are not contradictory, even if to us they seem to be. In eternity both truths will converge.” Charles Spurgeon
RE: Verse 20,21
My aim here this morning is not to analyze how this can be, but to urge us all to embrace the paradox of God's sovereignty and man's responsibility. The sad thing is that some embrace the sovereignty of God over the human will and say: "It is wrong to portray God with his arms stretched out, inviting and calling." And others embrace the responsibility of man and say, "If God invites and calls and beckons, then he can't really be sovereign over man's will, and man really is ultimately self-determining and God is not really in control of all things."
Both of these are sad mistakes. It is sad, because one group rejects something deep and precious that God has revealed about himself for our strength and hope and joy and love - namely, his absolute sovereignty. Oh, how sweet it is when all around our soul gives way, and we need a reliable and firm rock in a world that sometimes seems utterly out of control and meaningless and cruel. Oh, how sweet at these times to know that God is not good and helpless, but good and sovereign. And the other group (who embrace the sovereignty of God) sometimes rejects something utterly crucial for understanding the justice of God in dealing with people, and they fail to see how we should plead with people and persuade people and invite people and woo people with tears, to Christ, and on behalf of Christ.
So my aim is not to explain the paradox but simply to underline it with three other examples (and there are many more), in the hope that God will cause your mind to submit to his word, whether you can explain it all or not.
In Matthew 11:25 Jesus says, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children." And then in verse 28, he says, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." He has hidden the truth from some, and he invites all.
In John 6:35 Jesus says, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst." And one verse later he says, "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out." All are invited to Christ. And the Father gives some to Christ.
In Acts 13:38 Paul says to the synagogue in Antioch, "Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man [Jesus] forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed." And in verse 48 Luke says, ". . . And as many as were appointed to eternal life believed." All are invited to believe and be forgiven. And as many as were appointed to life did believe.
I am not explaining it this morning. I am simply proclaiming it. This is what it means for God to be God. Man is not the final, ultimate sovereign over his own life. God is. God is the potter. We are the clay. But on the other hand, God "desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4). He holds out his hands all day long to Jews and the Gentiles of the Twin Cities. He calls, he beckons, he invites.